A Digital Generation will power Kenya’s Vision 2030 dream

As we watched H.E Uhuru Kenyatta campaign and finally take the presidency, one of the exciting promises was a laptop for every child joining standard one from the year 2014. Kenya has a big dream of transforming its economy by the year 2030 and one of its key areas is technological revolution.

Kenya is indeed a potential technological powerhouse as indicated by numerous local innovations and the fact that it hosts African headquarters of many global corporations including Google, Microsoft, IBM and Intel to name just a few.

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Photo Courtesy: http://one.laptop.org Takaungu, Kenya

There is also the Konza City dream that is modeled around the idea of ICT based cities around the world. The former president H.E Mwai Kibaki launched the city a few months ago and it received interests from various investors from across the world which indicates a promising future for the industry. I have personally had a privilege of visiting India’s Info-city, Gujarat’s IT Metropolis and was amazed by the technological advances of India. I believe this is a possibility in Kenya given the numerous advantages we have over most African countries including a fast internet connection to the world via undersea fiber optic cable, good literacy levels and a robust economy.

When Google’s Executive Chariman Eric Schmidt came to Strathmore University early this year, he said that “If I knew what the big thing would be, I wouldn’t have come to Africa”. This was in response to a curious student who imagined that Google knows everything including what would be hot in the ICT market. He expounded that the amount of information generated globally within two days always exceeds that which has been generated ever since the beginning of time. He also predicted that 80% of the jobs that will be up for grabs in the next 20 years have not yet been discovered nor conceived. Google is a quite dynamic company that innovates and tries out anything that is potentially interesting and are reportedly developing devices that can read what a person thinks amongst many other interesting research area.

Photo Courtesy: http://one.laptop.org/

Photo Courtesy: http://one.laptop.org/

Given that jobs is a priority area that Jubilee government must tackle, it should be their priority to invest in ICT related businesses and innovations which has the potential of employing thousands of people country-wide while being able serve the entire world market. This is where a laptop per child makes sense as one of the moves towards realizing a Silicon Savanna in Kenya to rival the US Silicon Valley, India’s Info-city and many other havens of technological and entrepreneurial settings across the globe. A programme at Takaungu, Kenya has been running a “one laptop per child” programme for the last one year now and lessons can be picked from this pilot programme. With laptops available in primary schools, ICT Studies should be the next subject to be introduced and pupils should be taught on how to code simple software programs. It is to be noted that almost all the founders of leading global ICT related companies like Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg started interacting with computers way back while still in pre-teen years and later on managed to build companies that have employed thousands of people and changed the way people live and interact. With a well planned implementation and support from relevant stakeholders, Kenya will build a Digital Generation that will forever change the fortunes of this country.

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Written by Vincent Maraba

Vincent Maraba is studying for his Msc.  in Telecommunication Innovation and Development  at Strathmore University, Kenya. He won the 2012 Safaricom Appstar challenge finance category with his new innovation, PesaTracker, an Android app that allows users to track, analyse and backup their M-Pesa transactions.  M-Pesa is an award winning, mobile-phone based money transfer and micro financing service for Safaricom and Vodacom, the largest mobile network operator in Kenya and Tanzania. It allows users to deposit, transfer and withdraw funds via text message.

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